I’ve always been adept at compartmentalization or, as it’s less euphemistically known, DENIAL.

I’ve read some wonderful books about the grieving process and its non-linear stages, most notably Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler’s On Grief and Grieving.  While those books were comforting, I confess that being an only child and a New Yorker make me disdainful of generalizations.

Sometimes, though, there’s just no escape; try as we might, the heart feels what the mind and senses seem to ignore.  In April, the lilacs begin to bloom.  I push back the familiar thoughts that they have always been the Mother’s Day flowers to me, but my heart recognizes the magnificent scent that always reminded me to pick up a bunch on my way to visit Mom.  The fragrance finds its way to the places I’m trying to protect.  This year, the beauty of lilacs is acutely bittersweet.

I return to my apartment after another lovely jaunt among the now-in-full-bloom lilacs and turn on the television for some respite from missing Mom.  NOT SO FAST!  Though I’ve not overlooked the imminence of Mother’s Day, apparently everyone else on the planet has because those card and flower companies issue reminders every fifteen minutes on all 1,914 channels available on cable.

After a couple of weeks of this, Mother’s Day started to feel like it was coming at me like a freight train.  I kept trying to slap a happy face on my feelings by thinking of all the friends and family I love who are moms and the one who’s been a second mom to me (thanks, Ginnymom!).

Still, all I wanted to do was sleep through the lilacs and commercials and wake up on May 10.

Ultimately, my self-created geyser made its way to the surface, and I began weeping–for no apparent reason–while on the A train.  The tears just streamed down my face.  The grief was as fresh and consuming as it was in the weeks after my mother’s death.

I managed to contain my yawps and gasps only until I’d made it inside my apartment door.  I was stunned by how huge and raw the grief still felt, but remembered that someone told me the amount of sorrow is a reflection of the amount of love.  As homage to my mom, I sat on the floor in my foyer, allowed myself to feel the pain and the love, and wept.

Not a day goes by when I don’t think of her. This year for Mother’s Day,  I have a quiet weekend planned of nurturing myself and remembering her . . . with love . . . and lilacs.

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Connie Vasquez

Connie Vasquez is an only child who recently lost her mother after years with Alzheimer's. Through that experience, she learned about compassion, love, forgiveness and grace. Her sense of humor also saw her through. A practicing attorney, cardiac yoga teacher and life coach, Connie lives in New York City.

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